Personal Safety

Protecting Yourself

Be prepared to physically and psychologically protect yourself. A good way to prepare is to think ahead. Here is a list of suggestions to help you do that:
  • Think through how you usually react to crisis situations. Do you flee, freeze, or fight? Think of a few past examples to see if there is a pattern. You can change how you react by practicing a different response, if needed.
  • Talk to others about ways to handle confrontations and rehearse alternatives.
  • There is no right or wrong way to react. Every situation is different. The best response depends on a combination of factors such as the location, presence of weapons, your personal responses, etc.

Face-to-Face Confrontations

When faced with danger, trust yourself. Your single most effective weapon is your own judgment. Rely on it to choose what you think is the best response at the time, whether it is to:
  • Run
  • Stall
  • Not resist
  • Negotiate
  • Verbally assert yourself
  • Scream to attract attention
  • Distract or divert the assailant
  • Physically resist - fight off the attacker
Always evaluate your resources and options. Continue to assess the situation as it is occurring. If the first strategy chosen is not working, try another.

If you are being followed by someone in a car:
  • Turn around and walk quickly in the opposite direction.
  • Try to obtain the license plate number and a description of the car.
  • Call the police.
If you are being followed by someone on foot:
  • Turn around to let the person know you see them.
  • Immediately cross the street and walk or run toward a place where there are other people.
  • Call the police or get someone else to call for you.
In cases involving verbal harassment:
  • Ignore it and walk away.
  • If you are alone at a bus stop, proceed to the next stop if there are other people there.


  • Plan and use the safest and most direct route.
  • Choose well-lighted streets at night.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings; look confident and purposeful.
  • Become familiar with businesses that are open late.
  • If you feel uneasy, go directly to a place where there are other people.
  • Walk with a friend if possible, particularly at night.
  • Carry your keys and money in a pocket, not in a purse or wallet.

At Home

  • If there is a stranger at your door, never indicate that you are home alone.
  • Do not open the door to anyone you do not know without verifying their identity. Identification cards can be slipped under the door.
  • If someone wants to use your phone, offer to make the call for them while they wait outside.
  • Never let a stranger through an apartment security entrance.
  • Do not give any information to "wrong number" callers. Ask, "What number are you calling?"
  • Never tell an unknown caller that you are home alone.
  • Verify the identity and intent of those calling for information about you by calling the person's agency.
  • Hang up immediately if you receive unwanted calls. Do not say anything. If the calls continue, keep a record of the date, time, and content of each call. Then notify the police and the phone company.

Parking Lots & Ramps

Before You Park

  • Put valuables and packages in the trunk or out of sight before you arrive at your destination.
  • Drive with your car doors locked and windows closed.
  • Keep wallets and purses out of view while driving. Don't leave them next to you on the seat.

When Parking

  • Park in a well-lighted area of the lot or ramp.
  • When you can, park your car as close as possible to an exit in a ramp, or near the attendant's office in a lot.
  • If you must leave your key with the attendant, leave only your car key. Do not leave your house key.
  • Check parking ramp or lot for security, video cameras, regular patrols, or escort services.

After You Park

  • Do not leave any valuables where they can be seen from outside the car.
  • Keep your parking stub.
  • Walk in the center of the ramp roadway. Display a confident and positive attitude.
  • If someone tries to break into your car, honk the horn repeatedly.
  • Always lock the doors, no matter how soon you plan to return.

When Returning to Your Car

  • If possible, return to your car with an escort or in a group.
  • Have your door key in hand.
  • Look around and inside your car before you unlock the door and get in.
  • Once inside the car, lock your door and start the engine.
  • Start moving the car as soon as possible after you have become situated.
  • If you are being followed while driving, go to the closest police or fire station and honk your horn, or drive to an open business or gas station where you can safely call the police.

While Driving

  • Drive with car doors locked and windows closed.
  • Keep your wallet, purse, and valuables out of view while driving. Do not leave them next to you on the seat.
  • If you see another motorist in trouble, do not stop. Call the police for assistance.